American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee Executive Vice Persident Steven Schwager recently wrote about the growth of Hillel in the former Soviet Union in the weekly JDC Executive Report:
JDC established Hillel in the FSU in partnership with International Hillel and The Charles and Lynn Schusterman Foundation. Today, there are an estimated 75,000-80,000 Jewish university students in the former Soviet Union, and over 10,000 of those students are active participants in Hillel programs.
Now imagine yourself a young Hillel director in the former Soviet Union. You are a potential force for dynamic change and you may very well hold in your hands the key to established Jewish activity for the younger generation. But what are your qualifications for this enormous responsibility? You are the first member of your family in 75 years to be actively Jewish; you and your 20-plus-year-old friends are students; some of you have "grown up" in Hillel and you are now committed to playing a leading role in the Jewish renaissance in your community. But while your American counterpart heads a large team and typically holds an advanced degree or rabbinical ordination, you and your fellow FSU Hillel directors are almost all students between the ages of 21 and 28 and all of you, in fact, are managing your peers.
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